Concealment: Keep it Simple
If there is one thing on which all experienced goose hunters agree, it is that concealment, more than any other factor, can make or break a goose hunt. "In most cases when geese don't finish, it's not because of your decoys. It's because they are seeing you or recognizing your blinds," Wise attests. "It doesn't matter how badly geese want to be in the field. If you aren't completely covered up in a natural manner, you are going to have a bad day. But the good news is there is no reason why hunters shouldn't be fully concealed. It's something that you can control. There are plenty of things in goose hunting that you can't control, so if there are elements of a hunt that you can control—like concealment—you should take full advantage of it and tip the odds in your favor."
Whenever possible, Wettish uses natural cover for concealment. "Layout blinds are great inventions, but you don't have to use one every time you go goose hunting," he says. "You can save yourself a lot of effort by simply wearing a face mask and hunkering down in cattails beside a pond or in a brush pile along a fencerow."
Wise has used similar tactics with equal success. "I have literally killed thousands of geese out of what I call a wire blind," he says. "It consists of two panels of hog wire, six pieces of rebar, and a PVC-frame top that wires onto the back of the blind and flips back. It costs hardly anything, a kid can make one in about 10 minutes, and you can easily fold it up and throw it in the back of a pickup truck when you're done. The key is to thoroughly cover the blind with local vegetation by weaving it through the hog wire. The blind's only limitation is that you have to hunt on the edge of a field or a fencerow. A lot of people think you have to hunt in the middle of a field, but if birds like the look of your decoys and can't see the blind, they will often come right in. They just think the geese have shifted over to one side of the field on that particular morning."
Lynch, who prefers to hunt from an Avery Powerhunter blind, agrees that the key to concealment is to blend in with your surroundings. "If you are in a field with sparse stubble, mud your blind real well and put just enough stubble in the straps to match your surroundings," he advises. "If you are hunting in thick stubble, don't hesitate to cover up your blind with stalks. Another thing people neglect to do, especially early in the season, is to add some green stalks to the cover on their blinds. Many hunters don't do this because green isn't thought of as a fall color, but many fields have a lot of green vegetation in them, whether it's volunteer crop early in the season or winter grasses later in the season."
Another common mistake made by many goose hunters, according to Lynch, is hunting in groups that are too large to conceal. "It's much easier to hide hunters in smaller groups," he explains. "Instead of hunting with six guys, split up into two groups of three or three groups of two. This will even work in the same field. Geese often break up into family groups when they feed, so this will look very natural to the birds. It will also allow you to cover a larger area of the field, which will in increase your chances of decoying birds."
With Canada goose populations on the rise and long seasons and liberal bag limits in effect throughout much of North America, there has never been a better time to take up goose hunting. And as the aforementioned experts clearly attest, it's easy to get into the game without breaking your back or your bank account.